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Many Alternate Doors, No Exits in Sight (MADNES) 23: An Indecent Proposal

Updated: Aug 3

Image:  The fashionable Shade's preferred headwear . . .
It gets a lot creepier when it starts talking . . .

Last session the Cupcakes accomplished quite a lot. They liberated a town, made new friends, replaced Loki with a gruff (yet still more likeable) new ally, and cleansed a town. In one shot.

Once the obligatory celebrations were over it was time to move on to the next objective of the campaign. This one being another fort. Figuring the best they could hope for was a lack of flesh gate that slurped up allies, they headed forward.

Yet, once they arrived, they were greeted with good news. The first since the beginning of this campaign. (See, there's that silver lining in the clouds). As it turned out, that fort had never fallen. In fact, many of the citizens from the nearby towns had managed to evacuate to its protection. So many, in fact, that it was past maximum capacity.

This information was conveyed to the arriving armies by the sentries in the parapets. In short: no vacancy. (They were already having to bribe the fire marshal)

The leaders of the armies then asked to confer with the commander of the Fort. Once he'd been produced, they explained their goals, and previous exploits. Upon hearing that one town and one fort had been recovered he became ecstatic. He immediately began dispatching details to escort the surplus populations to these now safe areas.

While this exodus was being arranged, the armies brought him up to speed on the fiddly bits. They issued a warning about the crystals. They went over what they'd learned from the last town. And they discussed the plans for future operations.

By the time they were done, the city had emptied out enough for some of the army to enter. Choosing who would pass the gates became simpler when the Gnoll and Drow contingents decided to bivouac outside the fort on the opposing side, placing themselves between the fort and the next area of corruption. The rest of the PUG army was led inside as the fort's commander marveled at such an uncharacteristic concession.

Not that there was that much room even with the recently displaced refugees. All the buildings were still full, and the streets crowded. In the end, Frank, Steve, and Nebula took Hazel's suggestion of sleeping on a rooftop. Thor went to the market to sell the loot the group had acquired in the last two areas.

About an hour into their evening nap, Hazel was awoken by a voice. A voice that promised it could help her if she would help it. A voice that bade her come to the basement area of the building she was sleeping on, and to come alone.

And for some reason, she agreed. She used her broom stick to lift herself off of the roof silently and found her way down into a dark cell like area in the guts of the structure.

Once there, the voice told her it could give her a way to save allies from death. In return, it wanted her to bring it Dwarf skins. As you could guess, this sort of request created many more questions than it answered. The first of which being simply 'who are you'?

In answer, a being that did not seem to be completely there rose through the floor, adorning its face with an Elk skull. It had red lights for eyes, and stood to 8 feet tall. It explained in a raspy, wind-like voice that it and its some hundred followers had come from a different universe. And that they needed bodies to inhabit. Apparently they'd either had none, or had not been able to bring them when they had fled their home.

What they had fled, or how they had come here, it would not say. It did say that it had made arrangements to have a bunch of Dwarf skins delivered to this fort, but that the scheduled delivery had never arrived.

Hazel quickly drew a line from the wall that treated dwarves (and one gnome illusionist) like drink boxes to these creatures, and became very disconcerted.

Sensing this change (though probably not the cause thereof) the creature also told her that it had made arrangement for eyes, faces, organs, and skeletons, from the four sisters the group had had some dealing with. (Though why it couldn't just take all of that from one dead body was unknown, as well as unquestioned) It then summoned a staff adorned with the heads of the four Hag sisters and explained that they had not fulfilled their arrangement. Which did nothing for Hazel's comfort level, believe you me. And it certainly didn't make a conducive argument for entering into a contract with this . . . being. It did make her regret following the condition that she come alone.

As she hemmed and hawed, the creature explained that it was responsible for its people, and that it would do whatever it had to to save them. If she would not agree, then it would attack to the dwarves in town in order to fulfil these needs. Which only increased her uneasiness about the entire proposition.

Still, Hazel seemed uncertain as to what she should do. And the thing was becoming more impatient. But, before it took her nonanswer as a no, Zhalu'ski spoke up, via her proxy sitting on Hazel's hat, stating that she would acquire the Dwarven skins needed. Hazel decided not to ask how. One could hope involved digging up the dwarf skins they'd found. Thank the gods that they hadn't decided to burn them.

As the Witch was turning to leave the creature caught site of the large cloth they'd . . . creatively acquired from the large Gnolls. You know, the one that opened a portal to the Elder Gods. Even now Loki shudders at the memory of that brief encounter.

It hissed, and demanded that Hazel leave the article with it, ostensibly so it could be destroyed. And it was so insistent that it would not let her leave until she agreed. When she resisted that proposal, it offered information on Maiphere's current whereabouts. Still she hesitated, at which point she became aware of more of the things surrounding her.

Realizing that her choices were that of a) surrendering a powerful artifact for a pittance of information, or b) being killed and having said artifact taken from her, she opted for option a. Once she'd handed the artifact over, she was told that Maiphere was currently an egg under the watchful hollowed out eye sockets of the Dracolich Daurgothoth.

{Player's Note: Pretty sure this was just the DM attempting to rid the party of something he hadn't considered us weaponizing.}

After this Hazel returned to the roof, and tried to get back to sleep. One could only imagine that sleep did not come easy given her aforementioned sometimes menacing conversation.

Meanwhile, Thor was engaged in basic commerce, selling off all of Loki's ill gotten gains. The merchant he found offered an incredibly lowball amount for the mass of miscellaneous stuff. So low, in fact, that Thor had no trouble making the sense motive.

{Player's Note: Okay, actually, having grown up with a shenaniganry shit like Loki, his sense motive is probably quite good}

One look from Thor (you know the one) was all it took to get a substantially higher value. After the merchant had paid, Thor upended the BOH containing said ill gotten gains on the stall. The merchant glowered over the pile that was spilling into the street. Thor made it clear that dealing with that mess was his punishment for trying to cheat his customers and headed back to the group.

Without the advantage of Hazel's broom as a lyft, he was forced to scale the wall with his bare hands. Hazel was already back from her ordeal, and fast asleep, because apparently threats from quasi-real entities that had already Beetlejuiced three powerful witches was just par for the course when one has been raised by hags.

Some time later Steve and Frank awoke, and volunteered to stand watch on the fort's battlements. The next morning the armies set off for their next objective, a massive city built into a mountain.


#Madnes #ManyAlternateDoorsNoExitsInSight #ThingsThatGoBumpInTheDay #ThorIsItReallyThough

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